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Gwede Mantashe: ANC fully supports #FeesMustFall campaign

The ANC’s Secretary General says the state must be given more power to regulate universities.

Thousands of university students across the country have been protesting against the proposed fee hike in their respective institutions. Picture: Andiswa Mkosi Primedia.
Wits University,feesmustfall,University of Johannesburg
Local

JOHANNESBURG – The African National Congress (ANC) says it’s in full support of student demands for a zero percent fee increment for the 2016 academic year.

Secretary General Gwede Mantashe held a briefing outside Luthuli House in Johannesburg today.

He says the state must be given more power to regulate universities so it can intervene when mistakes are made.

Mantashe has also strongly criticised university vice chancellors, saying the protest, which reached the Parliamentary precinct, was the result of their actions.

WATCH: Police push students out gates at Parliament.

Hundreds of students demonstrated outside Parliament during the finance minister’s mid-term budget speech yesterday, demanding an immediate halt to tuition fee increases.

Police used stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

The Western Cape Community Safety Department has now asked the provincial Police Ombudsman to investigate the conduct of South African Police Service members during the protest.

Mantashe has blamed university management for the clashes, saying vice chancellors take unilateral decisions to increase fees and then pass the buck onto government.

“Vice chancellors must take responsibility for the decisions they make. If you announce the fee increase without consulting, because it has become tradition in universities, they must take responsibility for that.”

Meanwhile, the ANC says its meeting with student organisations taking part in the Fees Must Fall movement today is not an attempt to hijack the protest and says it is ready to speak to students if they decide to march on the ruling party’s headquarters.

The march to Luthuli House was abandoned by students from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Wits University after a brief stand-off with police in Braamfontein.

The ruling party also says the anger directed at the ANC is misplaced.

Mantashe says he will meet with South African Students Congress (Sasco), the ANC Youth League, the Young Communist League and Congress of South African Students (Cosas) at its headquarters this afternoon.

He says they also do not intend on avoiding students if they march to Luthuli House, but believe this would be pointless.

Earlier, a small group of students from both UJ and Wits said they were determined to march to Luthuli House and had told police in Braamfontein to shoot them if they wanted to stop them.

Students there tried to block access to the Nelson Mandela Bridge, telling police officers that if they can’t cross to get to Luthuli House, then they will stop traffic elsewhere.

Police officers armed with shotguns and rubber bullets warned them to disperse.

WATCH: #FeesMustFall: Wits students continue protests, musicians join in.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

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